Are We All in the Same Boat?

From the inbox: Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky of Chabad of Doral, Florida, suggests we remind ourselves that while we all might be in the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. Thank Hashem for your lighter pekkel and have compassion.

By Rabbi Avrohom Brashevitzky – Chabad of Doral, Florida

Recently someone complained to me about all the various Kvetching he constantly hears from many individuals, regarding the difficulties of the Corona lockdown and its effects. “Why are you complaining? After all, we’re all in the same boat!”

Sounds like the man’s right. We’re all in it together, pretty much in the same situation… And more or less we’re pretty much suffering through it together.


Perhaps the correct way of looking at it, is to say: “we’re all in the SAME STORM but on DIFFERENT BOATS”. Yes, we are all going through something – at the very same time. Yes, we are all collectively suffering. But no, not everyone is going through the same thing as the other. If we were to take a good look out of our scope we’d most certainly start to notice all the vessels bobbing up and down across the raging sea. These vessels we will notice, will be of various sizes and in assorted levels of distress.

Ask the young mother who’s stuck home with a newborn plus 4 little ones, as her husband is in the hospital fighting for his life. Speak to her, find out how it felt to have a Seder alone, without even hers or his parents being allowed to be there to help. This is certainly not the “luxery yacht” anyone wants to be on.

Check with the children of a Yungerman who passed away in his 30’s leaving them alone and taking with him the sole source of income they ever had. Speak with his young Almana – the storm on her boat is far greater than what the mind can tolerate.

All the families who recently lost loved ones, EVEN If they were already up in age. The suddenness and abruptness adds so much to the pain and loss. The surprise of it all certainly adds to the suffering. The challenge and sense of loss for not having had the ability to have a proper Levaya and Shiva.

Then you have all the families who Baruch Hashem are healthy and well; no complaints there. However, life isn’t easy these days, as their source of Parnossa has suddenly almost totally disappeared. And/or all the kids are home “enjoying” their homeschooling and certainly making the best of every moment. The quiet, the calm, and the beautiful family moments (for 24/7!!) will be remembered and cherished for a very long time to come.

True, compared to the situations previously mentioned, this one should be riding pretty smoothly, not withstanding the storm. However, for the mom in that home this boat is very rocky. In her world and with all  her responsibilities, this is a very difficult storm. It may be a very nice boat, but the passengers are petrified and going crazy.

Let’s look across, over the raging waves. See that small boat bobbing up and down? There’s a very nice single – not yet married – person in there. All alone, bored, confused and scared. Perhaps what’s going through their mind is the wish of being in the other boat – overwhelmed with annoying children; with all the difficulties that it entails. After all, this boat looks so big and safe. It seems like a better choice to be in when riding out a storm.

Think of the Shluchim families out there on the various seas. Perhaps they are enjoying all this unfamiliar free time for family and self. But they are itching for their communities and activities. They couldn’t make a porch Minyan, even if it were allowed; the Johnson and the McFerty families aren’t Jewish. This is besides the severe deduction in contributions people are giving these days and the worry of what the future holds.

Then there’s the people who aren’t suffering so much. Thankfully they are still fully employed (from home) with no concern about their financial security. The children are home, but older; = enjoyable, without the high cost on one’s nerves. But this person is used to and very much enjoys being out there to work and socialize. Perhaps it’s not so much the inability to say Amen or recite Kedusha that’s agonizing him, rather the lack of the social stimuli he gets when going to Shul.

This boat is definitely nicer and sturdier than all of the above mentioned vessels. However, this person, in his world and in his own self IS SUFFERING. This person is also receiving the brunt of this storm, albeit not as bad as all the others.

The list can go on and on. If I had the creative abilities of say Dr. Suess or the like, perhaps I’d be able to go on and on in describing and drawing all the various boats out there. But I’m not. And that’s fine, as at least I made my point, at least for one who can read between the lines. You kind of get the picture: “we are all in the same storm but on different boats”!

So what is the point?

1) When dealing with yourself and your own situation, think of all the other boats. Take a good look through the scope and see all the worse off boats in the distance. Thank Hashem for having a relatively lighter Pekkel. Curb the complaining and make the best out of it.

2) When dealing with others, even those who are riding this storm in a relatively luxurious boat – remember it’s their boat. This is their life and this is the boat they are now living on, not by their own choice. Have compassion. Don’t dismiss that person’s suffering with “at least you have it better than the others”. Give this person compassion and sympathy, understand that they too are suffering to a degree.

For me, I’m used to spending my days fully engaged with various people – face to face – and receiving lots of attention. Now things are different. I’m edgy, I need attention, hope this serves the purpose.

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